The flood which overflowed and destroyed the earth. This flood makes one of the most considerable epochas in chronology. Its history is given by Moses, Gen. 6. and 7. Its time is fixed by the best chronologers to the year from the creation 1656, answering to the year before Christ 2293. From this flood, the state of the world is divided into diluvian and ante-diluvian.
Men who have not paid that regard to sacred history as it deserves, have cavilled at the account given of an universal deluge. Their objections principally turn upon three points: 1. The want of any direct history of that event by the profane writers of antiquity.–2. The apparent impossibility of accounting for the quantity of water necessary to overflow the whole earth to such a depth as it is said to have been.– And, 3. There appearing no necessity for an universal deluge, as the same end might have been accomplished by a partial one.
To the above arguments we oppose the plain declarations of Scripture. God declared to Noah that he was resolved to destroy every thing that had breath under heaven, or had life on the earth, by a flood of waters; such was the threatening, such was the execution. the waters, Moses assures us, covered the whole earth, buried all the mountains; every thing perished therein that had life, excepting Noah and those with him in the ark. Can an universal deluge be more clearly expressed? If the deluge had only been partial, there had been no necessity to spend an hundred years in the building of an ark, and shutting up all sorts of animals therein, in order to re-stock the world: they had been easily and readily brought from those parts of the world not overflowed into those that were; at least, all the birds never would have been destroyed, as Moses says they were, so long as they had wings to bear them to those parts where the flood did not reach. If the waters had only overflowed the neighbourhood of the Euphrates and the Tigris, they could not be fifteen cubits above the highest mountains; there was no rising that height but they must spread themselves, by the laws of gravity, over the rest of the earth; unless perhaps they had been retained there by a miracle; in that case, Moses, no doubt, would have related the miracle, as he did that of the waters of the Red Sea, &c. It may also be observed, that in regions far remote from the Euphrates and Tigris, viz. Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, England, &c. there are frequently found in places many scores of leagues from the sea, and even in the tops of high mountains, whole trees sunk deep under ground, as also teeth and bones of animals, fishes entire, sea-shells, ears of corn, &c. petrified; which the best naturalists are agreed could never have come there but by the deluge. That the Greeks and western nations had some knowledge of the flood, has never been denied; and the Mussulmen, Chinese, and Americans, have traditions of the deluge. The ingenious Mr. Bryant, in his Mythology, has pretty clearly proved that the deluge, so far from being unknown to the heathen world at large, is in reality conspicuous throughout every one of their acts of religious worship. In India, also, Sir William Jones has discovered, that in the oldest mythological books of that country, there is such an account of the deluge, as corresponds sufficiently with that of Moses.
Various have been the conjectures of learned men as to the natural causes of the deluge. Some have supposed that a quantity of water was created on purpose, and at a proper time annihilated by Divine power. Dr. Burnet supposes the primitive earth to have been no more than a crust investing the water contained in the ocean; and in the central abyss which he and others suppose to exist in the bowels of the earth at the time of the flood, this outward crust broke in a thousand pieces, and sunk down among the water, which thus spouted up in vast cataracts, and overflowed the whole surface. Others, supposing a sufficient fund of water in the sea or abyss, think that the shifting of the earth’s centre of gravity drew after it the water out of the channel, and overwhelmed the several parts of the earth successively. Others ascribe it to the shock of a comet, and Mr. King supposes it to arise from subterraneous fires bursting forth with great violence under the sea. But are not most, if not all these hypotheses quite arbitrary, and without foundation from the words of Moses? It is, perhaps, in vain to attempt accounting for this event by natural causes, it being altogether miraculous and supernatural, as a punishment to men for the corruption then in the world. Let us be satisfied with the sources which Moses gives us, namely, the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the waters rushed out from the hidden abyss of the bowels of the earth, and the clouds poured down their rain incessantly. Let it suffice us to know, that all the elements are under God’s power; that he can do with them as he pleases, and frequently in ways we are ignorant of, in order to accomplish his own purposes.
Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.